I have travelled through the East many times – I love everything about South East Asia, well almost everything anyway! Everything except a nasty looking fruit called Durian. Its known as the King of Fruits and looks like a medieval weapon….it has a thick stalk and the fruit is the size of a football. Although the fruit is covered in wicked spikes, its not the appearance that makes me cross the road when I come across a vendor….it’s the nasty stench!
Durian is sold at markets and street vendor stalls all over Thailand. It is sold in neat pre-packed segments and it looks tempting until you rip open the packaging. Yes, its enough to make your eyes water.
I have not been able to find Durian in Samui this holiday. I was keen on giving it a try since making a decision to be more adventurous. All this talk of durian has made Rob curious too.
Its never been hard to find durian….the most sensible way to track it down is to walk in the direction that smells the most! Stop walking when you find the delicate yellow flesh that smells like a load of rotting something. Yes, it smells rotten.
We headed off to a few local markets or talaads (as it is known in Thai). We first tried the Fisherman’s Village market in Bhoput and then popped in to another one in Chaweng with no luck. We visited the Laem Din market too…still nothing. What rotten luck!
I was chatting to Martin Kunzmann (I have mentioned him before – he is the resident manager at Amari Palm Reef) and told him that I could not find any Durian. A keen adventurer and explorer, he offered to lead us on a Durian hunt. I was so excited.
After we had finished our delicious cooking demo with Chef Kanit, we headed off – Martin on a flash bike and us on our trusty moped. We stopped at the local Chaweng market just to make sure there wasn’t a durian delivery and then took an inland road out to Mae Nam. It was fantastic to get away from the buzz of the main Chaweng strip. We travelled along the Ghost Road – Martin says it is where the old spirit houses are abandoned. The road is lined with hundreds of them in various stages of decay.
Rob and I were thrilled to be experiencing a different part of the island. We made another stop, Martin pulled over and said he got a durian whiff….false alarm – It was another Samui special…Stink Beans!!!! Garlic makes your breath smell, asparagus makes your wee smell, stink beans makes everything smell. It makes your breath, skin and even your poo smell really bad. Martin tried to talk me into giving the stink beans a go….still on honeymoon, I thought that this might not be an appropriate time to acquire a devilish stink!
We were now on our way to Mae Nam. The hills got steeper and steeper and the moped got slower and slower. Eventually, I had to get off and walk up a ‘Tour de France’ hill. Spluttering and cursing after eating too much, I jumped on Martin’s bike – I can best describe this as a cool looking retro vintage bike and boy, it is noisy! It was a like a rocket up the hills and we met Rob at the top!
This is where our troubles started….on our way down the hill, we got caught in a tropical storm. The raindrops were large and heavy enough to make the trees bend over. We drove down the hill slowly, quietly kakking ourselves all the way. The raindrops stinging our faces and soaking us to the skin. We passed the durian trees (yes, actually with durians on them) and it was storming so badly, we could not even get a pic.
We got to the bottom off the hill and I never thought I would be so happy to spot a ‘Seven Eleven’. For me, it was like a sign saying, ‘Welcome back to civilisation’!
We got back to a flooded Chaweng strip….the water was about 50cm deep. It was chaotic….people were riding their bikes on the sidewalk and the pedestrians were wading through the street knee deep in muddy water.
I never got to find the durian in Samui, but I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure. I saw a part of the island that was beautiful and far away from traffic and tourists!
As luck would have it – I found durian in Singapore!
I have eaten Durian cooked almost like a custard in a tartlet. it was delicious and cooked, didn’t have that smell.
Wow…it takes a brave person to give the durian a bash!